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Travel

Traveling soon? 10 things to think about before finalizing your plans

With COVID vaccines more available, travel is on the rise. While it may be safer to expand your horizons now than it was a year ago, you still need to take the same precautions you always have, in addition to some new ones.

No matter where you go, you must be careful when using a public Wi-Fi network. Even your hotel’s own Wi-Fi may have hundreds of users, not all of them honest. Tap or click here to see how to safely connect to the internet on the go.

It’ll be nice to get out there again but before you pack your bags, check out our 10 tips for traveling. Even the most seasoned wanderers can learn something new.

1. Travel searches are up and so are the scams

We know you are itching to get on the road or in the air, but so do scam artists. As more people search for new guidelines and news about travel during the pandemic, the sharks are closing in.

Prechecking yourself before a flight saves time but there is a right way and wrong way to go about it. Always use official sites for this process, as fake ones exist to take your money and private information. Tap or click here to find out how to spot these scams.

2. Always peruse the reviews

Whether you’re checking into a hotel or Airbnb, see what your fellow travelers are saying. Airbnb has its own reviews. You can also check out Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google and Facebook, among others, for more information. Pay particular attention to cleanliness, cancellation policies, location and customer service.

3. Book a flight that can be adjusted if necessary

Many Airlines have changed procedures during the pandemic, so be sure to check their policies in advance. Flights are more likely to be canceled or changed by the airlines or passengers due to COVID-19 concerns.

Some domestic airlines are waiving fees in light of this. You are also eligible for a full refund depending on the circumstances of the change. Here are some examples from major carriers:

  • American Airlines eliminated change fees for all domestic, short-haul international and select long-haul international flying on Premium Cabin, Premium Economy and Main Cabin fares.
  • Delta Airlines has eliminated change and cancel fees for tickets originating in North America and some tickets are eligible for full refunds.
  • JetBlue has no change or cancel fees and canceled flights are eligible for a refund.

4. Back up and save your data before departing

Do you travel with a phone, laptop or tablet? How about all three? You are more at risk of losing your stuff when you’re moving around. It can happen in your Uber to the airport, or after your flight, or at your hotel. To prevent losing your gadgets forever, turn on Find My Device on Android devices and Find My on iOS gadgets.

Another thing to do before you set out is back up your data. We recommend using our sponsor, IDrive.

With IDrive, you can back up all your PCs, Macs and mobile devices into ONE account for one low cost. Get 50% off 5TB of cloud backup at IDrive.com when you use promo code Kim at checkout.

5. Check your credit cards for travel perks

Have you always wondered what it’s like to hang out in the airport lounge? You may be able to, thanks to your credit card benefits. Besides earning miles that you can use for travel expenses such as flights and food, you can find some cool benefits. Here are a few:

  • The American Express Business Platinum Card lets you earn perks at more than 1,100 properties, including daily breakfast for two, 4 p.m. checkout. You also get complimentary access to 1,300 lounges across 140 countries.
  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve card gives you access to more than 1,300 airport lounges as well as car rental privileges. Also, look out for room upgrades and late checkout.
  • The Capital One Spark Miles card can give you credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. You also get rental collision coverage and access to travel assistance such as medical referrals and ticket replacement.

6. Have your papers in order

You know to keep your passport handy when traveling internationally, but you’re going to need more than that. Have your COVID-19 vaccine card on you in case you need it. Airlines are already testing digital vaccine passports to boost travel, which may become more of the norm soon.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID deadline to October 1, 2021. After this date, anyone over 18 will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the U.S.

7. Don’t forget your mask

An airline has the same right as any place of business to refuse service if you are not wearing a mask. Mandates will vary depending on where you go, so pack a mask and keep some extras handy when you travel. Tap or click here to learn how to choose the correct mask.

Pack along some hand sanitizer in your carry-on as well. The TSA allows for one 12 ounce container of hand sanitizer per passenger.

8. Be prepared to take a COVID test if you’re leaving the country

As of January 2021, anyone flying into the U.S. from another country must test negative for COVID-19 no more than three days before their flight. Similar policies are in effect for travel to other areas:

  • If you’d like to kick back on the beach in the Bahamas, you must obtain a negative COVID-19 swab test no more than five days before your date of arrival. You also need to apply for a Travel Health Visa.
  • Travelers to Brazil require a negative COVID-19 test to enter, taken no more than 72 hours before boarding their flight. You must also fill out a Traveler’s Health Declaration.
  • Want to see the pyramids? You need to provide a negative COVID-19 test no more than 96 hours before your original departing flight.

9. Use contactless payment methods when you can

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in contactless payment, as people are avoiding cash due to the risk of contamination. You can pay for goods and services by swiping, waving or tapping your credit card or using your phone for QR codes and payment apps.

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to this payment method, with services such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Square, PayPal and Venmo just a few taps or clicks away. Tap or click here to find out how to use cash apps.

10. Be careful about sharing travel photos

We get it. You want your friends and family to share in your joy of globetrotting. The problem is they might not be the only ones who can see that you’re not home. Crookes can use this knowledge to raid your empty home.

Go through your social accounts and see what information is visible to people you don’t know. Keep your accounts private and do a follower audit to drop people you may not know or care to know anymore. Tap or click here to see how hackers are using your photos against you.

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